Even after calling it quits from Haute Couture back in 2020, Jean Paul Gaultier remains a fashion fixture in the industry. Instead of producing his signature designs every season, fashion’s enfant terrible has enlisted a rotating cast of designers (the latest being Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing) to interpret his legendary couture house’s savoir-faire. In addition to his guest-designed couture collections, the “retired” designer hosts his Fashion Freak Show — a rambunctious, high-fashion spectacle that’s more of a fashion fête than a traditional runway show.
The flamboyant Fashion Freak Show first premiered in 2018 at the iconic Folies Bergère in Paris, where cabaret shows took place that Gaultier’s grandmother would allow him to watch when he was young. It marked a pivotal moment for the designer, bringing unconventional entertainment back to the venue’s storied past. The extravaganza then went on a tour de force landing in England, Russia, Italy, and soon Tokyo in 2023 and has now returned to its London outpost for a performance that will show through August 28.
“I’ve always loved freaks, weirdoes, agitators, the mixing of different aesthetics, the unexpected encounters,” said Gaultier on the show’s website. “This transgressive energy will be on show for all to see. It will be about joy and dreams, I would like every member of the audience to leave in a happier mood than when they arrived.”
On the hottest recorded day in the UK, Gaultier occupied the Roundhouse in Camden for a VIP preview of this year’s Fashion Freak Show with performers wearing some sizzling house staples, including corsets, lingerie, bullet bras, and garter belts. Showgoers including Gaultier longtime friends and muses Daniel Lismore, Boy George and Princess Julia were treated to a show that has evolved into a more immersive experience. Performers ventured beyond the runway into the audience, interacting and pulling guests to join the show.
The evening is composed of a retrospective of Gaultier’s personal life and career, featuring over 200 of Gaultier’s original couture pieces. There are also new designs, and moments that focus on modern-day social issues such as plastic surgery and the vanity of social media.
If you happen to find yourself across the pond anytime from now until August 28, make sure to purchase tickets to Fashion Freak Show to truly immerse yourself in the Gaultier-verse, here.